Policy paper

Museum Partnership Report: Understanding the national museums' partnership activities in 2017 to 2018

This report is an overview of the partnerships of the 17 national UK museums, revealing how museum partnerships benefit partners, audiences and wider society.



Through collaborating with a range of organisations across many fields, the national museums increase access to their collections, support the museum sector and deliver positive social outcomes for all.

The partnerships formed by the nationals are just one part of a dynamic system of museum partnerships that support the whole museum sector and audience engagement. As demonstrated throughout the report, non-national museums are active participants, often acting as the catalyst for partnerships and are fundamental to their delivery and success.

This report identifies a number of key themes:

Sharing collections

  • The national museums partnered with museums across the globe to create innovative displays and exhibitions through sharing their world-class collections.
  • In 2017/18 there were 2,110 loans comprising 69,299 objects from the national collection for display in venues across the world.
  • The report found that the majority of lending by the national museums is to museums within the UK, giving over 18.4 million people access to the national collection.
  • As well as sharing their objects for public display, the national museums also loaned 370,982 objects to 6,777 institutions for research purposes, supporting innovation and scientific breakthroughs.

Sharing knowledge

  • The national museums partner with museums, universities and other organisations to build and share expertise and knowledge.
  • They are particularly active in supporting the wider museum sector through training, offering advice and taking part in two- way knowledge.
  • The report found that the national museums supported professional development and entry into the sector through partnering to deliver secondments, exchanges and apprenticeships.
  • The national museums maintain and build their expertise through at least 2,584 partnerships with academic and research partners, including 1,325 research projects with partners and supporting 287 PhD students.

Supporting audience engagement and social outcomes

  • The national museums work with the wider museum sector to deliver exciting and relevant programmes to ensure that everyone can access museums and their collections.
  • They partner with a wide variety of partners to improve social outcomes, and the report has found the national museums were especially strong in partnering to create education and learning opportunities and support our health and wellbeing.
Published 9 August 2019